Sport during pregnancy: advice from Julie Pujols

Julie Pujols
Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and wondering if you can continue a sporting activity? Are you afraid that an abs or running session will put you or your baby in danger?
Julie Pujols, the queen of sports coaches , answered all our questions to reassure you about the benefits of sport during pregnancy. And spoiler: YES, you will be able to put on your sneakers without stress, to get a well-deserved dose of dopamine!

> Hello Julie! What do you think of this idea that we should reduce sport during the preconception period?

Hello Boome team! So it's a received idea, totally absurd, that I hear more and more, which shocks me and which shocks all the gynecologists who are asked this question. There is NO physiological or anatomical reason which would justify stopping sport, and it is even the complete opposite: during preconception, we need to be zen, well in our heads, well in our bodies. . It is absolutely necessary to do sport, to let off steam, to increase serotonin, dopamine which are the hormones of happiness and satisfaction and to reduce cortisol, which is the stress hormone.

Beware of all these clichés, these false good ideas that we read on social networks, we find more and more nonsense there. And if you have the slightest doubt, talk to your doctor, he will reassure you immediately.

> Can you do sports throughout your pregnancy?

Of course you can do sports during pregnancy, on the contrary! If you don't suffer from any serious illness or problem, then go for it!
We often hear that you shouldn't do abs. No way ! If it doesn't pull, if you feel good, you can do hypopressive abs without problem. I have been a coach for 13 years and I have at least 80% of my students who do abs until the day of their due date, who do not have diastasis ( stretching of the abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy ) and who have impeccable perineums after childbirth. Besides, I have many gynecologists who recommend my courses.

It's funny because when I discuss this subject with Canadian, Spanish and American women, they are always very surprised that in France, we can ask this question. As a journalist (Editor's note: Julie is also a well-being journalist), I had the chance to interview 2 great teachers who took stock of the subject of sport and pregnancy. What comes out of this is quite crazy: only in France are women told not to do sports during pregnancy. French medicine is ultimately very macho and the situation is only improving very slowly. Fortunately, gynecologists and midwives are a little more trained on these topics.

> What are the pregnancy pains that can be relieved by sport?

In reality, sport will be beneficial at all stages of your pregnancy until childbirth, and will even continue to have effects postpartum.

Above all, by practicing a sporting activity, we will stay toned and maintain our flexibility and mobility. During pregnancy, we have more and more weight on the joints, so for example, it is imperative to continue to strengthen our thighs to relieve the knees, ankles, etc. Sport also boosts venous return and blood circulation, which which is ideal for all women who suffer from water retention.

Muscle strengthening will also help prepare your body for childbirth, which is a real marathon. Without forgetting that sport helps you work on your breathing: knowing how to manage it allows you to better manage your pain and stress.

In summary, the more we do sport, the more toned we are, the better we breathe, and the less pain we will have during childbirth, it's a proven fact.

A little focus also on our perineum. We know that it is compromised during childbirth but this is also the case during pregnancy with the weight of the baby. So even if you give birth by cesarean section, you have to take care of it beforehand, feel it well, this will allow it to be better retoned afterwards.

Finally, playing sports is good for your morale! When you are pregnant, your body changes, all your emotions are completely turned upside down. Thanks to the endorphins and dopamine that we secrete, and the cortisol levels that we reduce, we feel better, we increase our self-confidence and we maintain a connection with our body which is in the process of changing. All this allows us to remain more serene throughout pregnancy and after childbirth.

> What sports should you favor when you are pregnant? And which ones are strongly discouraged?

In fact, the only sports that are not recommended during pregnancy are all sports that can cause falls: boxing, wrestling, horse riding, etc.
You must also remain consistent: you are not going to start running or intense weight training at 2 months of pregnancy, when you have never done them. But if we already do fitness or bodybuilding, and we don't suffer from any particular pathology, we continue, we listen to ourselves, then we reduce the points gradually.

I am also not in favor of sports that are too gentle. For example, only doing yoga for pregnant women from the start of pregnancy is often too gentle, because then you lack muscle tone.
The ideal is to mix stretches which will really help reduce pain, a little muscle strengthening to stay toned and protect the joints, while working on your breathing and your pelvic floor to prepare for childbirth and postpartum.
If you have too much pain that you can no longer have any impact, then opt for swimming or walking.
The key is really to listen to yourself, to remain consistent and kind to yourself.

> Can you give us 2-3 exercises that you particularly recommend?

Of course, here are the 3 easiest exercises to practice at home:
> First, do around twenty squats every morning: feet, hip width at 10:10 a.m., bend your legs, send your buttocks far back while inhaling, breathe out and come back up. The idea is to protect the knee and ankle joints which can really hurt as you get heavier, especially if your thighs are not toned enough.
> Then, always in the morning, I recommend working on your perineum gently. While lying in bed, for example, stretch your spine, keeping your shoulders low, your pelvis neutral, your legs bent and your feet on the ground. We blow and we will bring everything up: we contract our perineum, we suck in our navel, we lengthen our spine. We inhale and release completely. You can do it 20 times in a row, it helps tone the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.
> Finally, I find that it is good to boost venous return in the water, either by swimming 1 to 2 times a week, or by walking with water about mid-thighs. Water will also help fight cellulite and reduce water retention.

> Do you have any other advice to give to women going through motherhood?

I think it's wonderful because for some time now, people have been speaking out more freely when we are pregnant and postpartum, there are now a lot of very authentic and unfiltered testimonies, especially on social networks. But be careful, it can be a double-edged sword, because I also get a lot of feedback from women who tell me that all this information makes them anxious and causes them stress.
So what I recommend is to remember that each pregnancy is different and that it can also go very well, you don't have to be afraid. Read and listen to testimonials from women for whom pregnancy, childbirth or even perineal rehabilitation went well...
Once again, you must always listen to yourself and never hesitate to ask your gynecologist or midwife for advice.
Trust yourself!

You can follow all of Julie Pujols' online courses, on her website, Les Cours de Julie . Two new classes, which mix Pilates, fitness and cardio, are offered every week. They are suitable for everyone, whether you are a beginner or experienced, pregnant or young mother.

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